Most excursions are in the Sitges, Sant Pere de Ribes, and Garraf areas. The length can be varied according to the abilities and interests of each group. The focus is not on long walks, but on looking closely and appreciatively at the natural world around us.
We may have different themes for particular excursions: looking for reptiles and amphibians; finding edible plants for infusions or for eating on the spot; fossil hunting; building with natural materials; drawing from nature; bird watching; local history; orchids; blindfolded walks; micro-hikes; insects and bugs; or a combination of all or some of those things.
Here are a few examples of local excursions:
1: Sant Pere de Ribes Vineyard and Forest Loop
This trail starts in vineyards which are lovely at any time of year, and continues through a shaded pine forest. There are old stone huts to explore, and in the spring we find yellow ophrys orchids and lots of edible plants and blossoms. In the fall we can pick the aromatic, chocolate-scented seed pods of carob trees and search for a wide variety of wild mushrooms. Olive groves spread out in the distance and we often spot buzzards and eagles circling overhead.
Animals we might see on this route include many species of songbirds, bee eaters, Bonelli’s eagles, wall lizards, psammodromus lizards, geckos, and of course many varieties of insects.
Length: 1.5 kilometers. This route is easily extended for longer excursions.
2: Las Torres Vineyards, Gardens, and Edible Plants
We start in the historic little pueblecito of Las Torres, between Sitges and Sant Pere de Ribes. After climbing briefly through sunny vineyards we enter a shady stretch of pine forest, and get to see an old lime kiln. In the spring we’ll find a variety of orchid species, and this route is loaded with edible plants, flowers and fruits, which depending on the season may include pomegranate, asparagus, blackberries, wild onions and garlic, and much more. We’ll stop at an old farmhouse to admire the horse and perhaps play with their dog, then turn back to return to Las Torres. In the pueblo there is a wonderful agrobotiga which sells home-grown produce, and we’ll check out one of the most remarkable trees I’ve ever seen.
Animals we might see on this route include geckos, wall lizards, smooth and/or Montpellier snakes, midwife toads, various birds, including kestrels, and of course lots of different insects and spiders.
Length: 2.25 kilometers. This route can easily be lengthened or shortened.
3: Ermita de Sant Pau Route
We start at the 15th-century Ermita de Sant Pau (built on the remains of a much older church and near where a Roman villa once stood), and climb steadily up through a landscape of scrub and limestone karst, coming out at the top upon great views of Sant Pere de Ribes, the mountains of Garraf, and the Mediterranean Sea curving to the horizon. A stretch of shaded forest leads us to lovely vineyards, and we can stop at the ruins of an old stone farmhouse to look for lizards and snakes among the stones. (If you like that sort of thing.) This is also a good area to pick aromatic herbs among the almond groves for making infusions.
Animals we might see on this route include Montpellier and ladder snakes, wall lizards, geckos, birds of prey, including buzzards, eagles and kestrels, and smaller birds such as magpies, robins, Sardinian warblers, and others.
Length: 1.85 kilometers
4: Olerdola Long Loop, Tombs and Valley
The archaeological site of Olerdola is absolutely remarkable, and a walk out to visit the ruins of a medieval church and anthropomorphic tombs is always moving. The site has been occupied by the pre-Roman Iberian people, Romans, and later a medieval town. The path was wonderful views of the mountains of Garraf and the Romanesque church of Sant Miquel, and on clear days the ragged teeth of the peaks of Montserrat tower above the vineyards of Penedes. After a short ascent we wind down through a valley where we can visit the remains of an old 19th-century lime factory and see the caves in the limestone cliffs where Bronze-Age people left their hand prints on the walls. The path then enters a stretch of shaded forest and we end up once again under the ancient Roman walls of the archaeological site.
Animals we might see along the way include various lizards, birds of prey, thrushes and other small birds, and of course lots of insects and other little creatures.
Length: 4.5 kilometers
5: Olerdola Archaeological Site
The site of Olerdola has been occupied by various groups of people since the Bronze Age, roughly 4,000 years ago, and we’ll learn a great deal about the history of the site on our walk. The hilltop position has been a strategic location at many points in history, and has been occupied by Iberian tribes (500-400 BC), Romans, and a medieval town. The legacies of all of these groups may be clearly seen in the wall, cisterns, watchtowers and tombs. The anthropomorphic tombs dating from the middle ages, particularly those of children and infants, are both striking and tragic.
The walk is short and easy, but there is so much to see and do there, so much history, that two hours barely covers this excursion. It is truly an enchanting place.
Animal life we might see includes birds of prey, especially buzzards and eagles, thrushes and other song birds, wall lizards, and the occasional snake.
Length: 1 kilometer
6: Olivella Castle Loop
This route takes us through local vineyards up into a forested area, where we can check out a large cave. The karst and scrub habitat is dotted with the occasional strawberry tree, and we climb uphill, admiring the Old Castle of Olivella, dating from the tenth century and part of the system of defensive castles built during the reconquista, when Christians were trying to retake Spain from the Muslims. We can go up to the remains of the castle and get gorgeous views of the mountains of Montserrat and the vineyards of Penedes.
There is a natural spring and two basins used in the 19th century for washing laundry, and this area is an excellent place to look for frogs, salamanders, snakes, and tortoises.
In spring and early summer we find spectacular orchids and other wild flowers, and all year there are lovely views over the medieval village of Olivella.
Animals that we might see on this route include birds of prey, robins, several types of warblers, viperine snakes, common frogs, fire salamanders and their larvae, and Hermann’s tortoises.
Length: 4.2 kilometers
7. Orchid Discovery Excursions
From March to July (and the last two weeks of September for Autumn Lady’s Tresses orchids) this area has a wonderful variety of interesting native orchids in bloom. Orchid excursions are roughly two hours long, and both adults and children are welcome to join. These walks are through some really charming landscapes of rolling hills, vineyards, villages, ancient farmhouses and forests. We also have the opportunity to a see wide range of other plants and animals, including bee eaters, birds of prey, tortoises and butterflies.
The cost is 25 euros/person with discounts available for families.
Length: Varies with the route we choose together, but from 1.5 to 5 kilometers.
8. Seaside Fossil Hunting
The coast south of Barcelona has some really stunning stretches, and this part it one of the most magical. We’ll stroll to a tiny secluded beach to take in Tamarit Castle and poke around for some fossils, then drive a couple of kilometers farther along the coast where we can combine some remarkable fossil hunting with a walk on a sandy pine-backed beach perfect for a picnic or a swim in the calm, clear water. This excursion can be combined with lunch at one of the many wonderful restaurants in the historic town of Altafulla, which has a beautifully intact old quarter crowned by a medieval castle.
The excursion without lunch takes about 3 hours, and costs 40 euros/person.
The excursion with a stop in Altafulla will take about 4 1/2 – 5 hours, and costs 50 euros/person.
1. Nature Reserve Ricarda-Ca D’Arana and the Delta of the Llobregat River
This site is a wetland area adjacent to the Llobregat River. It’s a pleasant place for a stroll, but the real draw is the bird watching. From the park entrance we go down to the banks of the Llobregat. Here is an excellent place to see flamingos, gulls, cormorants, egrets, and gray herons.
We then follow a raised path that leads past pastures where semi-wild horses graze. Depending on the time of year this is a good place to see various wading birds such as cattle and little egrets, black-winged stilts and golden plovers, as well as larks, serins, flycatchers, goldfinches and wagtails.
A walk along a path flanked by reeds and blackberries brings us to a hide which looks out over a large lagoon. Again depending on the time of year, we might see little grebes, black-necked grebes, great crested grebes, marsh harriers, purple gallinules, kentish plovers, shelducks, gadwalls, red-crested pochards, barnacle geese, greylag geese, ferruginous ducks, kingfishers, lapwings, common snipe, and others.
A path will lead us to the river and a tower which looks out over saline lagoons and sand dunes. Here we may see various waders, including kentish plovers and spotted redshanks, along with gulls, cormorants, and terns.
This walk is a fantastic opportunity to see some really special bird species within shouting distance of Barcelona.
Length: 6.6 kilometers
2. Nature Reserve Remolar-Filipines Bird Watching
An access road leads us toward the coast, passing a large, long lagoon on the left with often contains mallard ducks and great crested grebes. In the spring and early summer we’ll also stop to admire several species of orchids, and in September there are large numbers of ladies’ tresses orchids. We pass by blackberry bushes (for snacking in season), and come to several large bird watching hides where, depending on the season, we’ll enjoy the company of little grebes, marsh harriers, common sandpipers, collared pratincoles, purple gallinules, sandwich terns, kentish plovers, shelducks, gadwalls, shovelers, red-crested pochards, ferruginous ducks, cormorants, cattle and little egrets, gray herons, kingfishers, water pipit, night and purple herons, black-winged stilts, whiskered and gull-billed terns, little crakes, spotted redshank, greylag geese, common snipe, and yellow wagtails.
This is a really remarkable reserve tucked right up against Barcelona’s airport.
Length: 4.2 kilometers